Covid-19 presents a unique challenge to a premium-focused carrier like Singapore Airlines. On the one hand, there’s the need to comply with enhanced safety and hygiene requirements. On the other, it’s not exactly a premium experience to have little to no inflight service at all.
We now have some additional information about how Singapore Airlines will modify its onboard service routines as it ramps up its schedules for June and July. These measures were outlined in a press release sent out earlier this morning, as well as in a brochure now available on the Singapore Airlines website.
Here’s what passengers can expect.
A la carte meals instead of buffet service in lounges
Ever since the start of April, the Business Class Lounge in Changi Terminal 3 has been the only SilverKris Lounge in operation worldwide. Catering has been cut back to the bare essentials, namely drinks and some pre-packaged snacks.
Singapore Airlines has announced that going forward, a la carte dining will be introduced in the lounges. This is a welcome change, insofar as it allows passengers to have a proper meal before their flight while ensuring the food is prepared under proper hygiene standards.
There’s no word on what will be served, but you can probably expect less Qantas First dining and more traditional buffet with items portioned out by staff.
Hand sanitizer will be available in the lounge, and staff will wear gloves whenever handling food.
Inflight Care Kits will be distributed
It’s not quite an amenities kit, but all passengers on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot flights will receive a Care Kit with a surgical mask, antibacterial hand wipes, and hand sanitiser. This will be distributed from 8 June onwards.
No more in-flight magazines or newspapers
All seatback literature has been removed from aircraft, while newspapers and magazines will no longer be distributed. Passengers can instead access more than 150 publications via SIA’s e-Library, available through the Singapore Airlines app.
As a reminder, Singapore Airlines is temporarily making its entire library available to all KrisFlyer members, whether or not they’re flying. This is a great chance to access publications that are normally paywalled, like The Washington Post and The New Yorker.
Single-tray meal service in First and Business Class
Meal service is currently not available for flights within South East Asia and services to Mainland China, due to regulatory reasons. Passengers on these flights receive snack bags instead.
On long haul flights, First and Business Class will now see single tray service introduced, replacing the usual multi-course service. The appetizer, main and dessert will all be served together, along with an “adjusted” selection of alcohol offerings. By the way, this was already Singapore Airlines’ SOP for regional Business Class even before Covid-19.
The good news is that Singapore Airlines plans to reintroduce their satay and garlic bread offerings from mid-June, and are discussing with regulators how a course-by-course dining experience can resume.
The map below shows Singapore Airlines and SilkAir’s expanded route network for June and July, together with which destinations will see meal service and which won’t.
Other inflight tweaks
Inflight duty-free services are temporarily suspended, with passengers encouraged to pre-order items before their flight on KrisShop.com instead. KrisShop.com is currently running a promotion for June and giving away one million KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to check that out if you’re intending to buy something.
All headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, bedsheets and blankets will be replaced after every flight, and high touch items like children’s amenities and baby kit bags will no longer be distributed to minimize contact.
What are other airlines doing?
At least Singapore Airlines’ revised service routines appear to be doing what they can to maintain the carrier’s premium positioning. There’ll still be hot food in the lounges, and regular catering onboard outside of SEA/Mainland China (just presented differently). I can live without physical magazines and newspapers, and the lack of inflight duty-free just means more peace and quiet in the cabin.
I can’t say this about every airline though, because some are obviously using Covid-19 as an excuse to cut inflight service to its bare bones. Turkish Airlines, for example, is simply offering cold snack boxes on all its flights. British Airways is offering Business and First Class passengers nothing more than a sandwich regardless of flight duration, with no alcohol.
I don’t understand the logic behind how it’s “safe” to hand out bottles of water, but not individual cans of beer or splits of wine/champagne. Similarly, I don’t see how handing out a meal box is any different from a single tray meal service. Then again, I don’t wear a high-vis jacket to a data center either…
First and Business Class passengers on Singapore Airlines will still enjoy a superior hard product, but some of the frills that made a flight special will understandably have to be set aside for now.
In any case, leisure travel is still very much off the cards for the foreseeable future. Even when it resumes, we’ll probably have to expect a reduced inflight experience to continue for a while.
If anyone’s been on a recent Singapore Airlines flight (hopefully for essential travel), do share your experience below. What’s it like onboard now?